Monday, February 9, 2015

Revelations by Jennifer Carole Lewis Book Blitz + Giveaway



Chapter Two

“Why did I let you talk me into this again? We could have drunk beer and listened to crappy, distorted music at home,” Michael Brooks protested as he and his friend, Joe Cabrera, stepped out of the cab in front of Lost Eden.

“True. But with way fewer gorgeous ladies to look at.” Joe grinned. “Come on, man. This is a celebration. Your tip helped us nab the creep peeping in windows and helping himself to women’s underwear.”

Michael hid his smile. Joe wasn’t even paying attention to him anymore. His focus was on the line of young women dressed in an eye-catching rainbow of colors. As a veteran, yet single, cop, Joe quite enjoyed using his reputation as an emergency flirtation device.

Some of the women eyed Michael as well, but their stares left him more worried than intrigued. Previous girlfriends had told him that he was the image of a modern poet with his shoulder-length light brown hair. They described his eyes as soulful and compared his face to models and statues. But every single one of them had fled quickly enough. He’d learned to carry himself with an aloof confidence to avoid encouraging intimacies that could only lead to mutual disappointment.

Instead, he focused on the unique dangers the club could hold for him. He pulled on the thin leather gloves he always carried. Without them… he shuddered to think of the information overload he would have to process. Crowds were always more difficult than individuals.

For everyone else, touch was something casual. It could at times become sensual or intimate, but no one else had to fear it. Every time Michael’s skin touched someone or something else, he became privy to their inner thoughts, their darkest secrets, fears, and hopes. In an emotionally charged atmosphere like the club, sometimes he didn’t even have to touch someone. He simply absorbed it, as if by osmosis. But it wasn’t the worst that could happen.

Every so often, he would touch someone or something and receive a coercive flash, as though something downloaded instructions into his brain and forced him to follow them. Go to this location. Tell this person about what you saw. Trying to stop himself brought on a massive headache, as if giant arrows were being physically shoved into his head. He’d never tried to hold out for more than half an hour and he’d been nearly blinded by the pain.

Four years ago, one of those flashes had taken him to the police station, to Joe’s desk. It led him to the one detective in Perdition’s police force willing to listen without dismissing him as a crazy crackpot. Another prompted him to sign up for training in working with developmentally delayed children, starting a career where his gifts were uniquely helpful. Each flash took him places he would never have gone otherwise and they were always important or helpful, but they also left his life in chaos. He wished he could speak to the great cosmic design engineer and arrange for a slightly less disruptive and painful method of suggestion.

A limo drew his attention, pulling up to the curb behind him. Coming around to open the passenger doors, the driver gestured irritably at him to move out of the way. Michael obeyed, coughing on the stench of exhaust as he found a place beside Joe.

The club doors opened and a couple came out, flanked by bodyguards who must have been genetically selected for their lack of neck. Something about the man raised Michael’s hackles, despite his charming exterior. Maybe it was the tight grip on his date’s elbow or the smug satisfaction on the blonde’s face, but he screamed “predator” to Michael’s instincts. Michael was about to propose to Joe that they stop them from leaving when he got a good look at the woman.

Beautiful, with flawless olive skin and dark smoldering eyes, she seemed entirely unconscious of any possible danger from her companion. She glided confidently down the short stretch of sidewalk as if she were immune to peril. Peeks of red flashed from underneath her half-open dark coat and Michael was irresistibly reminded of brightly colored poisonous snakes displaying to warn off predators or lure in prey.

Their eyes met and her full lips parted in a brief but chilling smile before she vanished into the depths of the car.

“Damn. That girl is a man-eater. I doubt he’s getting out alive tonight,” Joe commented.

Michael stared after the limo as it pulled away, wishing he’d stopped them but not sure which one he would have warned. A slight tugging pulled at his mind, nowhere near the power of one of his flashes but still a warning.

He started to walk after the car but Joe grabbed his arm. “Come on, man. Don’t go into the woo-woo shit right now. We got some partying to do.” Even through the fabric, Joe’s eagerness and impatience seeped into him. Second-hand emotions always felt strange, like having a colored filter put over his eyes or hearing a second radio station bleed into another. He would never mistake them for his own feelings, but it could be distracting and disorienting.

The two men entered the club, and the emotional atmosphere hit Michael like a bat to the head. It seethed and roiled, barely contained by the flesh-baring bodies inside. Anger and sexual desire twined in and around him, crushing his breath in his throat. “This isn’t a good idea,” he managed to force the words out.

“I’ll get you a drink.” Joe waved away Michael’s words, his attentions clearly focused on the available young women.

Michael took a deep breath to center himself. He could only imagine how much worse it would be if he hadn’t worn his long sleeved coat and gloves to protect him. But he knew better than to try and explain it to Joe. From the very beginning, the rules had been clear: I don’t want to know if you saw it in a vision, got a note from your Magic 8 Ball, or were sung to by gnomes and werewolves. Just tell me what I need to know, and I will take it from there. Don’t drag all the weird freaky crap into it. I’ll trust you like any other source until you give me a reason not to. Joe lived up to his word, acting on whatever Michael brought him. And Michael kept his share of the bargain, leaving his methods in the shadows, no matter how isolated it left him.

Joe tried to get the bartender’s attention but the young man was staring at a couple exchanging frenzied kisses against the bar. The man’s shirt had been ripped open and the woman’s skirt pushed up to her waist. Their kisses resembled an animal attack more than a natural result of mutual attraction.

“Damn, dude, get a room,” Joe joked.

The man twisted away from the woman, his face flushed dark. He was about the same height as the detective but easily outweighed him, clearly a weight-lifting enthusiast. He growled, “What did you say?”

“I said get a room.” Joe straightened, facing the other man head on, showing no sign of being intimidated.

“And who do you think you are?”

Michael kept himself in the background, searching for other trouble before it could be stirred up and focused against them. The rest of the patrons were busy with their own pursuits, but it wouldn’t take much to strike a spark in this powder keg of emotion. He spotted the woman disappearing into a back room with another man and braced himself.

“Detective Joe Cabrera, Perdition Police.” He pulled his ID and badge out of his pocket and held it up. “Now I came in here to get a drink, have a laugh with some ladies, and enjoy a good time. If you want to hook up, no skin off my nose. But take it someplace private or I’ll have to arrest you for public lewdness, and that’s going to annoy both of us.”

The shiny badge took some of the wind out of the other man’s sails, but when he noticed his hook-up had disappeared, he swung back to the detective. Joe signaled the bartender for drinks, suggesting he felt the situation had been resolved. Michael hoped his friend was right as he stripped off his glove and casually moved between the two men. He brushed lightly against the other man’s bare hand, using the tips of his fingers as if accidentally touching in the crowd.

Sharp stabs of sexual frustration and roiling, irrational spurts of rage. Not good.

Michael’s arm and fingers wanted to curl into a preparatory fist, echoing the other man’s oncoming attack. Michael braced before he could launch.

The man threw his punch, aiming at the back of Joe’s head. But Michael grabbed the man’s wrist and pulled, shifting him off balance as he came past.

The man stumbled and fell. Icy humiliation swirled into the emotional mix. He hauled himself up, glaring at Joe and Michael.

“What the—?” Joe began, but the man launched another assault, charging at them.

With precise timing, Michael took a half step to the side and swiveled, letting his attacker lurch past him. Please let that be enough. He didn’t want to have to hurt someone over drunken frustration.

The man fell into a barstool. The thick pole supporting it had been bolted into the floor and the impact rang loudly enough to be heard over the music. Michael winced in sympathy.

Slowly, the man got to his feet, rubbing his head. The violent rage vanished from his face, and he seemed more bewildered than angry.

“Are we going to have a problem?” Joe asked, standing beside his adversary, his fingers lightly resting on the gleaming handcuffs dangling from his belt.

The man stared blankly at the cuffs. “I… I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened.”

“I think you had a little too much to drink. Why don’t we get you in a cab to go home?” Joe took charge, waving off the bartender and spectators.

Keeping to the background, Michael helped the other man straighten up. With luck, no one would remember this as anything other than a somewhat one-sided bar fight. He made sure to touch the other man’s skin, confirming the fight had truly gone out of him. Confusion and embarrassment poured over him, as if the other man were waking up from a vivid but bizarre dream—nothing like a normal drunken misunderstanding. Something wasn’t right here.

He looked out over the crowd. Nothing was visually different from before. People were still dancing close to each other, entranced by the pulsing music and lights. But the emotional sense of it had changed, more consistent with flirting than tear-their-clothes-off sex. Everything had lightened, intent on having fun again. What could have caused such a dark atmosphere? He took a breath, enjoying the relief from the terrible pressure, but he couldn’t quite calm the alertness that had him scanning the club again and again, searching for what could have agitated the entire group.

No helpful compulsion alerted him to the source of the danger, but Michael didn’t have to be psychic to be uneasy. A faint tugging pulled at his subconscious, warning him he might not have much choice in finding out the answers. Something dangerous was out there, something going bump in the night. And if he couldn’t find it, it would certainly find him.



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